Italian jokes aside, the wink-wink-nudge-nudge-who-me-yet-to-be-confirmed appointment of Senator Amanda Vanstone as the new Australian ambassador to Italy is merely the latest example of why politicians deserve to be held in such low esteem.

This is what the sacked Vanstone told Sky News about her non-appointment to Rome yesterday:

My departure from cabinet is completely unconditional, absolute and final. It’s not conditional on anything … The prime minister, when he made his statement, said that I was keen to continue in public service … That’s right, but there’s a whole range of opportunities there … I don’t know that I’m heading anywhere … Anything is an option. I’m here and I’ve got four years left on my Senate term. I may be made an offer … I may stay in parliament, who knows. … I’m still thinking about that.”

Really? Try telling that to the current Australian ambassador in Rome, Peter Woolcott, the fall guy who has been instructed by the Department of Foreign Affairs to pack his bags, pull his kids out of school and return to Canberra almost a year earlier than his tour of duty was scheduled to finish.

Of course, when the non-appointment is announced the Senator will be surprised, honoured, humble — and shameless. So will the Prime Minister. And the well-earned reputation of senior politicians as conniving, self-serving, hypocritical liars will be preserved, yet again.

If Amanda Vanstone gets her dolce vita quid pro quo it won’t be a case of arrivederci, but good riddance.

Peter Fray

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